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Home sweet home for U.S. Davis Cup team

January 31, 2013 05:30 PM
John Isner and Thomaz Bellucci are the No. 1 singles players.
Bob and Mike Bryan will play Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo in the doubles rubber.
Sam Querrey and Thiago Alves are the No. 2 singles players.
By Erin Bruehl, USTA.com
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – John Isner and Sam Querrey have heard the boos and the chants in other languages as they slid around European and South American clay courts. But this time when they step on the court for the U.S. Davis Cup team, all the cheers will be for them, and the ball will be flying on a fast, indoor hard court.
Isner and Querrey will make their Davis Cup home debuts Friday when the U.S. faces Brazil in a first-round tie at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., as the No .1 and No. 2 singles players, respectively, for Captain Jim Courier. Bob and Mike Bryan, the 13-time Grand Slam tournament champions, will play the doubles match.
At the official draw ceremony Thursday, Querrey was drawn to play the opening match of the tie against Brazil’s No. 1 player, Thomaz Bellucci, with Isner facing Thiago Alves in the second singles match. Both matches will be played Friday.
In doubles on Saturday, the Bryans will face familiar opponents in doubles world No. 16 Marcelo Melo and world No. 19 Bruno Soares, a team against whom they are 1-2. And then on Sunday, the tie will conclude with Isner scheduled to face Bellucci in the fourth singles match and Querrey scheduled to close out the tie against Alves.
"The first match is always a good one to try to get a win, set the team off on the right foot," Querrey said. "I’m feeling great, John is feeling great. Bob and Mike are playing well. I’m excited to get things going tomorrow."
Isner and Querrey are the two top-ranked American men, at No. 16 and No. 20 in the world, respectively, and will be the favorites against No. 36 Bellucci and No. 141 Alves.
More immediately, though, they’re both thrilled to finally have the opportunity to play on home soil. The U.S. has played seven of its last eight ties on the road, including all three in 2012.
"I think we’re both really excited," Querrey said. "We’ve both been playing some away ties for three or four years, so to finally get one at home is thrilling for both of us. First one on a hard court [too], which is nice. It will be nice to have the fan support."
Isner had been a question mark after suffering a bone bruise in his right knee at the Hopman Cup in January, which forced him to pull out of the Australian Open, but he said the knee has not bothered him this week and that he was ready to go. Ryan Harrison traveled with the team to Jacksonville, just in case Isner’s knee did not respond well to an intense week of practice.
"For Sam and myself, this is going to be a great opportunity," Isner said. "We’ve never played one at home. We’re going to go out there and try to play our best.
"My knee hasn’t been bothering me," he added. "I feel like I’m ready to go. These guys feel like I’m ready to go as well. That’s why the decision was made."
The Bryans are seemingly always ready for the pressures of Davis Cup, opportunities they relish and that they treat the same as winning Grand Slams – something they’ve had experience with lately, having won the 2012 US Open and the 2013 Australian Open to become the leading all-time Grand Slam men’s doubles champions with 13 major titles.
A home tie also means that Bob’s daughter, Micaela, can attend her first Davis Cup tie as she and the team celebrate her first birthday this week.
"Playing in a home match is unbelievable," Mike Bryan said. "The crowd goes nuts. They chant, ‘U-S-A.’ They’re yelling your names. We have the Net Heads that come out. For us, we really get a thrill out of playing in the U.S. We feed off the energy. I know these guys (Isner, Querrey) will."
They’re also usually money when it comes to supplying the doubles point for the U.S., having combined to go 20-2 in Davis Cup play in their careers.
The Bryans, however, know it will be another test Saturday against two of the world’s best in Soares and Melo, against whom they are very familiar, having faced each man multiple times (though often when Soares and Melo are playing with different partners). Both Brazilians have won titles so far in 2013; Melo won Brisbane with Tommy Robredo and Soares captured Auckland with Colin Fleming.
"This is a team that has beaten us before. They beat us in a big match at the French," Bob Bryan said. "We really respect them. We know a lot about them, they know a lot about us. We have some momentum coming from Australia. But that definitely doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be a war."
Courier will be there on court to provide support and advice to all his players, and he expects them all to play their hearts out – as usual.
"It’s a privilege to be on the court with these guys," Courier said. "These guys are going to give me all their best. They’re going to out there with their hearts on their sleeves and be ready to play. I’m there to help them see some things they may not be seeing, offer them support. But if they’re playing well, I’ll be watching just like you."
For more news and information on the U.S. Davis Cup team, please visit the Davis Cup homepage. For photos, please click here.


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